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Top tips for getting the most from biofumigants

Biofumigant crops grown to help manage potato cyst nematode (PCN) infestation levels are an investment but need attention to detail to be most effective. At the  Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) Symposium held at Harper Adams University PhD researcher William Watts of Harper Adams University offered some tips for getting the most from these crops. 



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Potato cyst nematodes can cause serious yield losses in potato crops
Potato cyst nematodes can cause serious yield losses in potato crops

Cash crops and biofumigants are influenced by the same elements, including soil temperature, moisture, day light hours and intensity, and nutrition. Getting agronomic practices right are key to producing a crop with high ‘biofumigation potential’.

 

Dr Watts said: “You need to give them the best chance of establishing, producing biomass and the bioactive chemicals needed for biofumigation. Once that has been achieved, getting the compounds properly incorporated is also crucial to success.”

 

Dr Watts’ Top Tips for getting the most from biofumigants

  • Drill after early harvested crops from mid-July onwards for rapid biofumigant crop growth and early incorporation into warmer soils.
  • Irrigate if necessary, particularly if the crop is being grown on light soils. This is to keep crops lush and prevent early flowering.
  • Maceration should take place at budding to early-flowering rather than mid-flowering to ensure the crop breaks down easily to an effective biofumigant residue, thus enhancing biofumigation effectivity.
  • Use hammer flails as they tend to be more effective at disrupting cells in tissues to enhance biofumigant volatile production.
  • Rapid incorporation of macerated tissue to 25-35cm is key to success, with preferably less than one minute between operations, followed by an equally rapid sealing (rolling) of the surface.
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